When we got back from Silicon Valley, we decided to solve the problem of Senior Citizens using IoT. This product became our first commercial ioT solution which took us almost two years to build from zero into a finished product, and we started as early as April 2017.
Here’s how we learned to build our first IoT product. Check out some of the few essential tips to consider in your IoT development.
We are seeing the trend of “Ageing in place” whereby more elderly people will be retiring and stay at home either alone with their spouses or with their children. They lived longer because of the health facilities but not necessarily healthier, and they might be suffering from heart problems, diabetes, or even dementia.
Their grown-up children might be very busy with their jobs or family and thus unable to monitor their elderly parents continuously. If there are emergency cases when the parents fall sick or fall, they have difficulty calling for help. Sometimes, due to dementia, they will have trouble remembering to return home.
Thus, what if we have a technology that can continuously monitor them and have a simple feature to trigger for help?
How Big is the Market?
The world population is not getting any younger. According to the latest estimates, by 2050, there will be 2 billion people aged over 60 (20 % of the world’s population). There are an estimated 3.5 million people – or 7% of the population – in Malaysia who are above 65. Japan, France, Italy, and Germany have more than 20% of people aged above 65.
Thus, the market for senior citizen healthcare can be huge.
The IoT Solution
The idea is to monitor the health and safety of senior citizens. Thus, we need to have sensors that can monitor their health condition and location to ensure their safety if they get lost or fall.
We choose a single device solution for the following reasons:
- A single device is easy to carry and manage
- A monitoring device that can be monitored everywhere and support mobility
- Since it has to monitor the health vitals, the device must be able to have contact with the person’s body
- A device that can easily trigger an alarm and show the location of the individual
- Option to make or receive a call
- A caretaker or their children can monitor them from remote
With the above conditions and requirements, we chose a wearable device with health sensors and a GPS.
- The individual can use wearable devices like a smartwatch with total mobility.
- Wearables with built-in sensors monitor the person’s health, such as the number of steps, heart rate, blood pressure, ECG, and fall detection.
- GPS is a better solution to track the location either in-house or in-building and outside the building.
- The device has data connectivity to send the information to the cloud or the caretaker and also optionally has a voice feature for two-way communication.
- A mobile app continuously tracks the elderly parent’s health and location.
This market is the tricky part for a Startup that ventures into a healthcare solution. We can have two business models – B2B or B2C. But which is a better model?
We started to approach Senior Citizens Care Centers in anticipating for B2B market. However, what we found was surprisingly a simple and yet a big mistake – it’s not the kind of market that we should approach because these Senior Citizens are already 24x7x365 days are monitored by their caregivers.
Pivot is the Name of the Game
Then, we pivot for B2C marketing online via Social Media channels and participate in exhibitions or talk at conferences. Finally, it piques some interest, and people start to inquire and make purchases.
However, the market is still tiny, and we pivot again to a different market segment, i.e., Hajj Pilgrims. We approached Hajj and Umrah Travel Agents, encouraging them to package their Hajj/Umrah package with a value-added service to monitor their health and safety when performing their rituals. However, that B2B model is still not attractive enough, and we have to revert to B2C, where we target individual Hajj or Umrah pilgrims.
The challenges of both the Senior Citizens and the Hajj market are worth another article in the future (Check this article “6 Great Challenges Building an IoT Solution for Hajj“) . Our first IoT adventure has just started!
Articles worth reading next!
- How We Build My First IoT Product
- How We Build Our Second IoT Product
- How We Build Our Third IoT Product
- How We Build Our Fourth IoT Product